Aneka Manners. Financier, fashion designer and female entrepreneur.
Despite her jam-packed diary and demanding day-job (General Manager at the National Australia Bank), the Perth-raised and now Melbourne local is pursuing her dream having launched her self-titled, fashion label. Discover Aneka‘s empowering story as she shares her wisdom on succeeding as a woman in business and how her love for Kailis evolved into something so much more.
From finance to fashion, describe your journey to where you are today?
My fashion career probably began before my finance career. I was like many of those children who always wanted to be a fashion designer that got told “well it’s not really a serious profession, is it?”. I didn’t hear it from anyone in particular but there was a general view that there were serious and not so serious professions – so off I went into finance! Now having said that, I wouldn’t have it any other way because now I (hopefully) know how to run a fashion business. Which is something that many people don’t have the benefit of learning. I think my journey has been a very fortuitous route – which means I now have the tools to do everything I need.
What does your typical day look like?
There is honestly no typical day. I will have some days where I’m up at 4:30am to fly to Sydney to do client meetings for my ‘day job’ and flying back the same day. Or I’ll have other days where I have breakfast with a collaborator, then work my day job until 6 and then I’ll spend from 6 to about 11 doing my ‘fashion job’ – planning photoshoots, emailing customers and organising ridiculous installations in Florence. I used to think that you had to carve out work time and play time, but now it all merges into one. Which I’m happy with, because if you do things you like to do then it doesn’t feel like work.
Describe your style.
Comfort to start, and I know that’s a pretty unsexy word. But for me it’s not possible to feel sexy if I’m not comfortable. So that means wearing things that feel like ‘me’ and wearing things that fit.
Your luxury of landscape installation in Florence was a huge undertaking. Can you tell us about your collaboration with Kailis?
The collaboration with Kailis for Florence was epic and I was so excited that we made it happen. I had this fantastic idea as I have been the owner of the Adored Ring with Black Diamonds for some time and I was thinking about how I could augment the installation with fine jewellery and first person that came to mind was Kailis. I wanted to make a Kailis ring which included stones that echo the landscape and the earthy colours in my clothing – I thought is this something that’s even possible? The Kailis team made it happen, and they did such a great job. After exchanging ideas and sharing my vision, they hand-selected Cabochon sapphires. They set the sapphires into a beautiful graduated style ring which encapsulates my collection perfectly. I love it!
In light of international women’s day, what role have women played in your success along the way?
Wow, so much, both women and men. But if I had to focus on the women, I would think of the luxury of landscape installation – every single one of the collaborators were female. That wasn’t intentional, but it just so happened that all of the people I felt a connection with were female. I also have the women that are in my personal cheer squad. Some I work within banking and some have been friends of mine since grade one – I wouldn’t be without them. They are the people that tell you the truth when you’re being a complete idiot (which is often!) and give you a leg up when you’re down. Unfortunately, there seems to be a fatal myth that women don’t support each other – however, my experience is absolutely the contrary.
Most treasured piece of jewellery.
It has to be my engagement ring, well it ‘was’ my engagement ring. My husband bought this beautiful antique ring at this lovely little store in Sorrento, Italy. It was stunning. Unfortunately, I have left said engagement ring on a plane many years ago, but I still treasure it, nonetheless.
You’ve achieved so much in both fields of your career. What wisdom can you share in relation to building a successful and rewarding life?
The older that I get the more I realise that life is less about driving to outcomes and more about letting go and letting things happen. We can get so fixated on wanting a particular thing or thinking “I will be happy when…” or “I will be successful when…”. And that is not to say a healthy dose of drive is not a good thing – because it absolutely is, you need that drive to keep you going. So, the advice I’d share is to ‘let go’ more rather than being so attached to particular outcomes and also to think more about what makes you happy.
What’s up next for Aneka Manners?
So many things. Florence was just the beginning. It was huge, it was terrifying, it was inspiring, and I want to do it all again. I learnt lots of things this time that I would do differently next time, but I absolutely want to do something else like that (and give myself more time to do it!). I’m going to ‘let go’ and see how things play out. I am also really excited to continue to work in finance, straddling both my day job and my fashion label. I look forward to challenging the people who do not believe it’s possible to do both. I want to prove that you don’t have to choose – you can do both.
To find out more about Aneka Manners, visit www.anekamanners.com.au.
Photographer: Lilli Waters
Videographer: Alice Stephens
Location: Florence, Italy.